University of Canterbury
Thursday 4 October 2018
Concurrent Session 3B
Transforming Student Experience With Student First
The Student First programme is a major part of the University’s digitisation of services and puts them ahead in the tertiary education sector. As its name suggests, the programme focused on students and engaging them in ways they are more familiar with in the digital world.
The programme of work encompasses a number of initiatives spanning multiple years and has been faced with numerous challenges in terms of driving a more dynamic set of services, along with having to integrating new and legacy IT components with speed and ease.
The first initiative, Easy Enrolment, features a modern, single-page user interface. This was built was built as a foundation of reusable digital assets, including:
The Easy Enrolment initiative consists of an API Gateway providing API protection & management. This was underpinned by a microservices REST framework for agile low-code CRUD and orchestrated DevOps service development. The process also consisted of robust integration to legacy ERP platform’s, PaaS cloud Services, cloud authentication, and other cloud digital services.
The Student First Programme is a major, multi-year, business-led programme of work which includes significant information technology deliverables and change.
The programme has and continues to benefit University of Canterbury, giving the ability to change with flexibility in architecture to allow best of breed implementation with either on-premise, cloud, COTS or custom build. The Student First programme has also allowed the university to deliver a better experience to students. Through improvements to the user interface of myUC, students are now able to easily manage their university life, from the application and enrolment process, to managing their courses and assessment results.
The implementation of industry standard technologies and best fit infrastructure means the University is now able to support dynamic workloads, giving it the ability to scale up and down to meet the demand of the business without vendor lock in.
The vision was borne from the need to take a non-traditional ERP approach to Student Management achieved by reimagining Student Information System Architecture as a componentised microservices based model over an existing OO ERP
The Student Information System end state was decomposed to components covering CRM, the curriculum, Enrolment and Assessment processing followed by academic progression and graduation
The design was aligned with the standardised tertiary CAUDIT architecture to ensure the API model could be extended in line with business requirements. This education-industry aligned open architecture was delivered via a multi-vendor development model leveraging open architecture ensuring vendor lock in was negated
Delivery was facilitated by a tailored agile process that decomposed business requirements to develop features with clear acceptance criteria ensuring Test Driven Development that significantly reduces testing. The test cases incrementally grew during development and are now sitting at ~3500 automated unit, component and system tests ensuring regression defects were minimised and DevOps velocity was maintained.
Currently, the programme has delivered four significant and successful iterative releases of the solution into production leveraging the robust DevOps capability, significantly increasing the University’s enrolments over the last year
The solution was delivered by leveraging the following technologies:
The solution leveraged Docker containerisation for the API and User Interface layers, with Build and deployment via Jenkins CI pipelines and local private Docker registry with Microsoft components delivered via TFS pipelines into the Azure private cloud. Finally, security, policy enforcement and virus protection was offloaded to an API Gateway.
The solution was further supported by a number of 3rd party APIs of note:
The project’s team are further working on new initiatives such as the Agent Application Portal, Staff Administration Portal, Targeted applicant profiling, CRM integration for Student Communications and more, providing flexibility for the future.
Dave Quennell is the Technical Lead for UC’s Student First Programme. He’s been in this role for 2 years working with Architects, multiple vendors and internal resources to implement a componentised microservices based Student Management system. Prior to working at the University Dave has held management roles at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise and Jade Software Corporation.
Kris Thornley is the Lead Archi-Dev for UC’s Student First Programme. During his wide and varied career, Kris has built a reputation as a hands-on Architect leading by example, able to navigate and express the solution from source code to the business goal to various stakeholders. His driving motivation is to provide a solution balanced to both the functional and non-functional concerns by exploiting both his broad industry exposure and broad technical knowledge.
Ian Vanstone, Chief Technology Officer, IntegrationWorks
Ian has spent the majority of his 20-year career connecting technology to deliver business outcomes. His experience covers strategy, consulting, management, architecture, product development and production operations across a range of industries, operational models, and continents. He considers himself fortunate to have learnt lessons from an ever growing and awe-inspiring global network of connected technology experts and enjoys supporting the growth of tomorrows talent (and learning from them too).